There are a lot of cameras to choose from when looking for a vlogging camera so trying to decide on the right one to kickstart your vlogging career can be a difficult process. One way to make that decision easier is to set yourself a budget and then try to find the best camera below that price limit. In this article, we try to make that process easier for you by taking a closer look at the popular vlogging cameras below a certain price ceiling, in this case £200.
What to look for in a vlogging camera under £200
In order to make a good judgement on which camera under £200 to invest in for vlogging, one needs to know what features are necessary in this centrepiece of vlogging kit. Within the £200 price bracket, one is obviously not going to get an 'all-singing, all-dancing' device that does everything to the highest standard but there are certain essential features in the vlogging camera that should be prioritised above others - these are outlined below.
A camera company with a reputation
As you begin your vlogging camera research, you will come across vlogging cameras from sellers and companies that you will have never heard of before. Enticingly, these cameras will even purport to possess all the desirable features that one wants in a vlogging camera and much more for an unbelievably low price. In these review articles, we have tried to shy away from theses 'no-name' brand cameras for the simply reason that making professional-looking movies is not an easy endeavour and you are not likely to get the video quality you want with these unknown brand cameras. The likes of Nikon, Canon, Sony, and a few other well-known companies have been in the photography game for many decades and have the wealth of experience to produce cameras that can give us that professional look.
One of the first decisions to make when choosing a vlogging camera is the level of resolution that it is capable of filming in. 720p, 1080p, 4K are all typical resolutions found on today's vlogging cameras. For a good detailed explanation of the differences between the different resolutions see this article by the recombu team. These days screens and displays on TVs, computers and smartphones with only the 720p standard are gradually making their way into the annals of history so opting for a camera which can only shoot movies in this lower standard is a bit short-sighted for a budding Youtuber. 1080p, also know as Full HD, on the other hand is today's de facto standard with the majority of purchases of new display equipment exhibiting this standard as a minimum. 4K displays are becoming ever more prevalent as well but are currently regarded as the top of the range of displays for the average consumer. However, in terms of buying a vlogging camera for under £200, you really only have two choices of resolution in which the cameras can shoot video at, namely 720p and 1080p (don't be confused by some technical specifications that indicate a sub-£200 camera can shoot at 4K - this refers to 4K still photography NOT video).
Since it is possible to get a camera which can film in 1080p (Full HD) within this price range, then choosing one with 1080p should be a no-brainer! Of course with cameras that are only capable of the 720p standard, you are either going to pay a lot less or you're going to get a wider range of features, but the majority of these extra or enhanced features will be more for taking still pictures and not for movie-making. So if you want your future camera to be used also for your fledgling still-photography career as well as movie-making, then a 720p camera might be more aligned with your needs as you will get more bang for your buck (or rather pound - but it doesn't sound as nice!). Since this website is focused primarily on videography and since we assume you are too, then going for a camera with the ability to film in 1080p should be a given. One advantage of deciding up front on a camera with the 1080p standard, is that it immediately eliminates a number of other candidate cameras within this price bracket, significantly narrowing down the playing field.
This is another important feature that is a recommended requirement if you want to create some good video photography. Fortunately, most cameras in the upper echelons of this price range possess some form of image stabilisation. It might have some funny-sounding name (Nikon calls it 'Vibration Reduction' or VR, while Sony calls it 'SteadyShot') but in essence, it all pretty much does the same thing: clean up the picture us wobbly humans create when we hold or move a camera! There are a small number of different types of image stabilisation technologies with the main ones being either optical stabilisation or electronic stabilisation. Optical stabilisation involves physically moving the lens within the camera to compensate for unwanted vibration, whereas electronic stabilisation involves digital correction within the software of the camera to create a sharper picture. In general, optical stabilisation is superior to electronic stabilisation as it is better able to handle unwanted movement, and the image does not have to be cropped as it is with the electronic stabilisation.
Wi-Fi on a camera is more of a convenience than an essential feature since you can always retrieve videos from the camera using a wired connection. However, at this point in your vlogging career one hopes that you are envisioning yourself making video after video for uploading onto your soon-to-be popular Youtube channel, in which case, the last thing you will want to be doing is to be fiddling around with wires each and every time you need to get a finished movie off your camera. Wi-FI allows you to get the movies off your camera at the touch of a button (or a few buttons) and move them on to your smartphone or computer so that they can be edited and uploaded to the web with the greatest efficiency. So from a successful vlogger's perspective (which we all hope you ultimately will be!), we think Wi-Fi is an essential feature. Fortunately in the sub-£200 range of vlogging camera, Wi-Fi is not uncommon.
What's a 'selfie screen' I hear you ask? One in which you can flip the screen completely around so that you can see yourself in the shot while you are taking a selfie video. Unfortunately, there are very few (if any) brand-name cameras in this price range with a true 'selfie screen'. Some of the cameras do possess a flip out screen that can allow viewing of the shot if the camera is held at an awkward angle but the degree of rotation of the screen is not sufficient for it to be used properly in a selfie shot. However, even if your camera of choice does not have a 'selfie screen', all is not lost, as there are a couple of other ways in which you can see your 'selfie' shot while filming. The first is via a wired connection to a desktop or laptop computer - a la webcam - and the second way has been designed into some cameras (like the Sony ones) where you can connect the camera with your smart phone or tablet over a direct Wi-Fi connection and use your mobile device to view the live 'selfie' shot (as well as control other aspects of the camera itself).
An often overlooked feature of vlogging cameras is the type of audio they are capable of recording. Ideally, to get really professional audio one should use a professional external microphone attached to the camera. Realistically however, for cameras under £200, you are not going to get a camera that has a jack to which you can attach an external microphone. This means that you are almost certainly going to be stuck using whatever microphone quality that comes with the camera. In general, vloggers should go for a stereo microphone over a monaural one to get decent quality sound that can give their movies a more professional edge. In addition, some cameras also feature extra enhancements to the recorded audio like reducing wind noise or other background ambient sounds.
What not to bother looking for in a vlogging camera under £200...
The number of megapixels
The pixel count of a camera, often given in megapixels, is mostly relevant to still photography rather than videography, with video quality in the sub-£200 price range primarily determined by the camera's video resolution discussed previously. Consequently, when choosing a vlogging camera under £200, the number of megapixels can, for all intents and purposes, be ignored as it will not have any noticeable effect on the quality of your future videos.
The shutter speed setting
Almost all of the sub-£200 cameras you can buy do not allow for manual control of shutter speed during filming so if your £200 limit is set in stone, you are going to have to accept the inherent automatic shutter speed control that each camera uses to get the best shot it can. For the most part, this is not critical unless you are planning on doing some of the cinematic-like special effects that finer control over shutter speed gives you, for example, making the scene look a bit more 'dreamy-like' by lowering the shutter speed and creating more blur in the video. In general, cameras in this price range have similar automatic shutter speed ranges when shooting video.
The aperture setting
Similar to shutter speed, most of the cameras in this sub-£200 range do not give you manual control over the aperture. This means that you will not have control over the depth of field in the shot. In other words, you cannot control how focussed the background is relative to the main subject being filmed. This is not a deal-breaker for a vlogging video camera but will prevent you from generating certain professional video effects that you may have seen in professionally-made films, like visually isolating the main subject from the rest of the shot through changes in depth of field. In general, cameras in this price range have similar automatic aperture ranges when shooting video.
The ISO setting
Setting the ISO sets the amount of light that is allowed to hit the camera's image sensor, which essentially means a brighter or a darker image. A high ISO means more light hits the sensor for a brighter image BUT too high a setting will introduce grainy noise into the picture. In contrast, too low an ISO setting will result in a video that is too dark. So the idea with the ISO setting is to set it to the lowest value possible while still having a bright shot. Unfortunately, most cameras in the sub-£200 range do not provide control over ISO settings for movie-making, even though they may allow the ISO to be changed for still photography. In general, cameras in this price range have similar automatic ISO setting ranges when shooting video.
Best vlogging cameras for under £200
Now that we have a good idea of the features that we should be concentrating on in order to select the best camera for under £200, we can next turn our attention to what cameras are out there and which ones are proving more popular amongst consumers. The table below compares the important characteristics just discussed in popular vlogging cameras within this price range. In the text following the table, you will find a more detailed review of some of the cameras that we really like in the sub-£200 category.